My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tate Britain

Kate and I went to play frisbee last week, and somehow, instead, ended up in the Tate Britain, another of the free art galleries here.

I'd never been in this gallery before. It specializes in only British work, so I inexplicably assumed it would be boring.

A large part of the gallery is older stuff. Some of the really old stuff can be a bit dull, but this museum is home to Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot among others, so it's a pretty good collection.

We also saw a new exhibit called the Upper Rooms, by Chris Ofili, a somewhat shit-disturbing artist (in more than one way.) It's basically 6 massive paintings along two facing walls, and one at the end, looking out at the others. The paintings are all of the same monkey, in a different colour. Each canvas is propped up with two pieces of elephant shit:

Upper Rooms, Chris Ofili

Okay, that sounds horrible. But it was really quite cool--and I'm picky when it comes to contemporary art... we found out at the exhibition for the Turner Prize. One guy took apart an old shed, built a boat out of it, sailed down a river, and then rebuilt the shed. Um, yes. Same guy also cycled around on an electric bike, then used the only waste material (water) to paint a picture of a cactus. Supposedly a statement on efficiency, I sort of wonder why he didn't just pedal the bike of his own power, but then again, what would he be left to paint with? Don't think too hard about that.

The other pieces included a video installation of the artist's grandmother's face as she watches people ballroom dance at the same place she and her now-dead husband did years ago; paintings, including one of a bum (the bodypart, not a tramp) and scenes done entirely in black; and a room with stripey black and white floors with giant bird statues, covered in paint and handbags.

Amazingly, this was all very boring--something modern art, let alone the best of the year, should never be. I don't really care who wins--the birds were at least cool to look at, the paintings very well done technically, and the video installation rather sweet (with an earnestness missing from most modern art)--so long as shed-guy doesn't win. I hate the shed. The decision is announced Dec 5; I'll update y'all on who wins.


Blogger Will said...

You're right about the Chris Ofili monkeys (The Upper Room) - it's amazing. And you're also probably right about the Turner prize stuff: sounds like absolute trash to me.



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